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Chill out with herbs and spices

By: Judy Davie - The Food Coach

Life's full of trades don't you think? You love ice-cream but when you eat too much you gain weight. You stay up late to watch a favourite TV show and spend the next day feeling exhausted. Summer is a great season but the trade with summer often is the heat we have to bear and how it affects our level of comfort. Excess heat can lead to extreme fatigue, swelling, skin irritation, sweating, and sometimes heat stroke.

There are few hotter places on the planet than India and to stay cool during the summer months there, Indian people use herbs and spices to promote cooling. It may sound counterintuitive to use ingredients, which appear to overheat the body and promote sweating however according to ancient Ayruvedic medicine, there are plenty of everyday spices and herbs which cool the body even when outside temperature unbearable.

Here are some of the top herbs and spices, to help you cool down in summer.

Fennel Seed
Fennel and fennel seeds help to cool the body, promote digestion and reduce acid reflux. Chewing on the seeds will also promote good oral hygiene.

Fresh coriander and coriander seeds are considered to be some of the most cooling herbs and spices around. Accompanying a curry or as part of a spicy salsa, fresh coriander leaves will help counteract the pungent spice flavour. Spritz the leaves with fresh lime juice and a sprinkle of salt and you will cool the fieriest food and overheated body. Coriander seed can be ground and used in a BBQ rub over meat and chicken.

Summer fruit such as nectarines and peaches poached in water with cardamom pods boost digestion and cool the body. Iced cardamom tea, made with black or red tea leaves, or with fresh mint leaves is another excellent cooling digestant to enjoy throughout a hot day.

Chili Pepper
Chilli is used extensively in hot Asian countries such as Thailand to help cool the body. While initially causing us to sweat, eating hot chilli triggers the internal thermostat, which eventually helps us cool down. Chill down by adding chilli to salsa, stir fries and light coconut curries.

Cinnamon is a true super-spice with many therapeutic properties beyond helping us to cool down. Serve it in an iced tea with crushed ice, and honey, not only will it give you a boost of mental and physical energy, it will cool the body down and reduce sugar cravings.

Turmeric has screamed into the spotlight recently with turmeric lattes and other wonder- meals served in some of the most trendy café and bars around town. And not without merit, particularly in summer. Being bitter, turmeric is known in Ayurvedic medicine for its cooling properties. It also reduces pain and inflammation, cleanses the liver juices and purifies the blood.

Like chilli, ground cumin and cumin seeds can also, in small amounts will help to cool the body. It may also help reduce gas and abdominal bloating.


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